Let’s find out everything you need to know about Tappy Toes, a baby and toddler dance class franchise from the UK. In this interview with Claire Munday – CEO and founder of Tappy Toes, she shares her passion and dedication that turned her idea into a worldwide sensation.
With over 15 years of teaching experience behind her and after 10 years as a professional dancer, Claire created Tappy Toes, baby and toddler dance classes. The classes became so popular the decision was made to franchise the classes so that even more children could enjoy them! Tappy Toes can now be found in over 80 locations UK wide, with over 30 franchises. Classes are also found in many nurseries and school settings.
I created the Tappy Toes syllabus back in 2005. I was teaching dance in Watford at the time, alongside a career as a professional dancer, and there wasn’t anything on the market for the under 3’s. Once you reached 3 you could do a ballet class, but that was it. I wanted to create an alternative to that, and hence Tappy Toes was born. It wasn’t until many years later, when I was pregnant with my first child that I decided to franchise the brand. We now have 30 franchises across the Uk, teaching out of over 80 different locations.
I had been teaching Tappy Toes classes in my local area, and they were really well received. Classes were fully booked, and I was always being asked for more. I didn’t have enough hours in the day, so I started to look for other people to run the sessions. When I got pregnant I realised that this could be a perfect business for someone with a family, as it can be really flexible around them, and I started looking into franchising as a model.
I did a big brain storm and wrote down all the words I could think of relating to dance. I wanted it to be something really memorable but also easy to pronounce, as it’s aimed at young children. Tappy Toes just seemed to be the perfect fit!
I wanted the Tappy Toes logo to incorporate baby toes somewhere within it, so the original logo had some toes on the end of the S. That has since evolved into turning the PP and the OE into little feet. The bright colours are to appeal to children and the font is child like but still very legible.
Tappy Toes is extremely gender neutral so really appeals to boys as well as girls. This is difficult in the dance world, because it’s so female heavy! We really wanted to change this, and I think we have succeeded judging by the amount of boys we retain in our classes! We are also an alternative to ballet, our lesson plans are extremely unique and well thought out. There really is something for every child in a Tappy Toes class.
All of our franchisees are passionate, enthusiastic and bubbly personalitlies. I can easily teach the back end running of the business, but they’ve got to have that love of little ones and a passion for child development, as you can’t teach that. Children are perceptive and if you are not fully invested in teaching them they just won’t engage. You will also need to be self motivated, and driven to succeed. Building any business is hard work, especially in the early days, and a franchise (admittedly easier than going it alone) is no exception.
The majority of our franchisees make their investment back and more in their first year. If you follow the systems set out for you, there is no reason why you can’t make a healthy profit in your first year of business.
There are daily challenges as a franchisor, it’s a bit of a rollercoaster! I can’t think of any one specific challenge, but would say you have to roll with the punches and keep picking yourself up and carrying on. I’ve had potential franchisees get really far down the buying process and then change their mind at the last minute, which is always such a hard pill to swallow. I’ve learnt not to get excited about a new franchisee until they’ve signed on the dotted line!
I’d say winning the Best Franchise Award 2021 was a highlight for me. We have won several awards, but this one was special, because it was awarded due to anonymous franchisee feedback. Our franchisees were surveyed by an independant body, and their answers gave us a percentage in franchisee satisfaction. We got 96% overall satisfaction making us the winners over 45 companies that took part!
I try to start the day with 30 minutes on the spin bike after the school drop off! Then I’ll log on and check my emails. Every day is different. I might have franchisee support zoom calls booked in, or discovery calls with potential new franchisees. I’m often joining webinars to continue learning and developing my franchise knowledge.
One morning a week I teach classes, as I still absolutely love doing it and it keeps my foot in the door in understanding what our franchisees face in their classes.
The best moment for me was our recent annual conference! It was absolutely fantastic. I left buzzing and on such a high. Having all the franchisees together in one room was really empowering and I took a moment to look around and realise how far Tappy Toes has come. I don’t think we ever take the time to really step back and look at what we’ve achieved, so this was a real pinch me moment and I felt incredibly proud of the brand and everything we have achieved.
Global! We are currently in talks with a new franchisee launching in Dubai. We’ve just been awarded the trademark for Australia, so watch this space. We’d love to take Tappy Toes further afield and evenutally around the world!
With regards to the UK, we plan to have 80 franchises in the next 5 years, but more importantly we’ll make sure all our franchisees are thriving and earning a fantastic profit from their businesses, so supporting them every step of the way is really important to us.
Do your due diligence, and make sure you speak to lots of existing franchisees within the business you are looking to buy into. This will give you a real insight into the ethos of the brand and how the current franchisees feel about it. Good luck!
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